Material Matters Conference - 2-3 April 2012, London


Profile: Chris Wise

Chris Wise began his career with Ove Arup and Partners, where he became Arup’s youngest Director in 1992. In 1999 he left Arup to co-found Expedition. Chris is widely known for hands-on engineering projects, both as design lead and also in close working collaboration with some of the world’s leading architects, including Richard Rogers, Renzo Piano, Michael Hopkins and Norman Foster.

Chris is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and a recipient of their highest individual honour, the Silver Medal. He is also a Past Master of the Royal Designers of Industry, as well as a Trustee of the Design Council.

He writes and broadcasts on the theme of creative design in projects, and lectures widely to engineering and architectural students in the UK and abroad.

Down with Rools!

In engineering and architecture our worst self-inflicted injuries are our rules… of practice that mean we could probably take out half the material from our building structures and they would still be high performers. To put it another way…if Usain Bolt was a building, his legs would become treetrunks in case he was struck by an earthquake, his gold shoes would be covered in intumescent paint in case they caught fire, and his shirt would be air conditioned in case the poor dear got heat stroke. Where’s the sense in that? Good design is more than skin deep so designers pride themselves on making something beautiful inside as well as out. Ah…if only that was true. In reality, most of our creations contain great swathes that are worse than useless….a plethora of plastic, foam, steel, brick, textile or gel that performs absolutely no useful function except denuding the earth of its resources. And if we are determined to shag ourselves into overpopulation and material poverty, we need at least deal to stop shooting ourselves in the foot (admittedly a difficult act to pull off at the same time).